Capital Between The Ranges
and Colleen Gantzer journey through the enchanting valley - between
the ranges and the rivers - the best-known of the doons of the Himalayas
Cable Car soaring up to Mansa Devi Temple
Birth Of The Doon
Once upon a long and legendary time, when the fires of creation
still spouted in the mountains, a river ran through this valley.
It was, they say, the greatest of all the rivers of our land. It
drained the waters of the ancient Tethys sea as it was thrust up
into the sky by the restless uplifting of the Himalayas. And as
the sea cascaded down the rising mountains, it ate into them, carried
away rocks and sediment, piled them up as debris on its far banks,
deepened and widened this broad and fertile valley at the bottom.
Himalayas still rise to the north of the valley. The debris, impacted
and pushed up by the forces of earth, have become the Shiwalik Range
to the south of the river valley. The great river has split into
three: the Ganga to the east, the Yamuna to the west, the Saraswati
flowing secretly underground. The luscious green valley, between
the ranges and the rivers, is the best-known of the doons
of the majestic Himalayas. In 1675, Guru Ram Rai, son of the Sikh
Guru Har Rai, set up his settlement or dehra here. Since
then, the town in the valley has been known as Dehradun.
fertile sub-Himalayan bowl had changed hands many times till, finally,
the might of the East India Company defeated the occupying Gurkhas
in 1814. The British then developed the Doon as a haven for retired
folk, an exile for a few political prisoners, the headquarters of
some government institutions and a base for the hill-station of
An aerial view of Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar
- The Capital
November 2000, Dehradun became the capital of the new Himalayan
state of Uttaranchal.
Dehradun is an 800 metre high town, alive with beetle-busy three-wheelers
called Vikrams swirling around a clock tower. This landmark
stands at the entrance to the crowded Paltan Bazaar, and at one
end of the long Rajpur Road that arrows up to the base of the snaking
highway to Mussoorie. A web of other roads spread out serving the
railway station, the Cantonment, the Indian Military Academy, the
Survey of India, the Forest Research Institute, the Doon School,
the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, the buildings housing the new
state government, and the once-outlying colonies, settlements and
villages now being absorbed into the burgeoning metropolis of the
(Right) Dehradun is a good base for pleasant excursions
out of its teeming heart
Worth Your While
as a state capital, is not, essentially, a tourist town, though
it is a good base for pleasant excursions out of its teeming heart.
The Forest Research Institute (FRI) has some attractive museums
devoted to forestry. If history interests you, drive out a short
distance to the ravine-edge of Kalunga. Here, two lonely cenotaphs
commemorate those who fell in 1814 when the Doon passed from the
hands of the Nepalese to those of the British.
winding road up to Mussoorie
much older, and far more natural vintage, is the Place of a Myriad
Fountains: Sahastradhara. This happy marriage of mountains and water
is 14 kilometres out of Dehradun. There is a faint odour of exploded
firecrackers from the water of the cold Sulphur springs. This, however,
does not deter the bold and the beautiful from disporting in its
and water are an essential part of this limestone area. Five and
a half kilometres from Dehra is the cave-shrine of Tapkeshwar. Here,
the warrior-sage, Drona Acharya, reputedly received his weapons
from Lord Shiva. Drona then set up his academy of martial arts in
this hallowed place.
could then move on to the fantasy of Robbers Cave, eight kilometres
from town. Outside this small, but spectacular gorge, there was
the ring of childrens laughter and the aroma of picnic lunches
beside a mountain stream. The brook emerges from Robbers Cave
and, when we waded in, we stepped into another world. Sunlight was
caught and fractured, shimmering through a waterfall, glinting off
faceted rocks and minerals, coruscating in the darkness. If the
sun is at the right angle, it can be magical, if not then its
at least like entering Harry Potters world!
an even cooler world 35 winding kilometres away in 2000-metre high
Mussoorie. You can pause, about two-thirds of the way up, and relax
at the Jheel. Here, the civic authorities have diverted the waters
of a mountain stream and let it flow through an artificial lake
offering pedal boats. From the Jheel, an easy half-hour drive will
bring you to Mussoorie.
old hill-station, on the southern-facing slopes of the Himalayas,
offers spectacular views of the Doon valley from much of its main
road, the mall; horse-riding; being pedalled in a cycle rickshaw;
views of the white peaks of the higher Himalayas on clear days;
unexpected bargains from the stalls run by the Tibetans; shawls,
walking sticks and souvenirs; or just breathing in the chill, unpolluted
Himalayan air. Then, when you have recharged your batteries, drive
out 15 kilometres along a mountain road to Kempty Falls.
trudge down could be a little tiring, but you will be rejuvenated
when you stand under the quicksilver cascade of the falls. And then,
back in Mussoorie, theres the inevitable ride up the mountain,
in the cable car, to the top of Gun Hill. The mountainscapes from
there are breathtaking: the Shiwaliks rise at the far end of the
Doon, at your feet; the Yamuna is a glint on your far right, if
you are very lucky; and the Ganga meanders away on your left, flowing
on to Haridwar.
holy town, 54 kms from Dehra, is where the Ganga formally enters
the plains. The cable-car ride soaring up to Mansa Devi Temple gives
visitors an eagles eye view of this riverine pilgrim spot.
It is, as might be expected, full of temples, shrines and ashrams
offering spiritual and physical rejuvenation. Among its more unusual
temples is the Sri Harihara Ashram, Kankhal. Its Parad Shivling
is, reputedly, made of 151 kgs of pure mercury, but no one could
explain how this metal, normally liquid, had become solid.
to some of the pujaris of Haridwar, there are many such mysteries
here. Pilgrim spots, worldwide, tend to generate their own wonders
tapping the unquestioning faith of their devotees. On a more down
to earth... or should it be down to river... level,
Haridwar is at its most enchanting at dusk. Try and stand at a spot
across the river from the identifying clock tower of the famous
just as the electric lights flare and before darkness comes, temple
bells begin to fill the air with their chiming, clanging, tintinnabulation.
At that moment, colourful pilgrims, massed on the ghats, bend down
and release little leaf boats on the swiftly-flowing Ganga, each
carrying a tiny, flaming lamp. Slowly, this twinkling, yellow constellation
spreads across the river and begins to bob its way into the darkening
centuries ago, burning cinders from the fires of creation, hissed
and sparkled on the flood of this river, as it roared out of the
valley of the Doon. Time, as always, has come a full circle.
Jolly Grant Airport (24 km). IA flights from Delhi
Terminus for trains from Howrah, Lucknow, Mumbai and
By taxi, state transport and private buses from Delhi
have no meters - rates are negotiated. Vikrams
are tempo-like vehicles which operate like mini-buses.
Fares laid down according to distance. There are no
yellow top cabs and a few city buses.
Drona Travels, 45, Gandhi Road. Tel: 653309 offer:
1 Half-day city tour at Rs 100 per person or Rs 630
for a full taxi.
2 Full day tour to Haridwar and Rishikesh at Rs 210
per person or Rs 1,260 for a full taxi.
3 Full day tour to Mussoorie and Kempty Falls at Rs
945 for a full taxi.
Taxi stand opposite inter-state bus station - Tel: 627877
Ambassador for eight hours and 80 kms at Rs 600 plus
Local sightseeing at Rs 450 for four and a half hours.
Day tour of Haridwar and Rishikesh at Rs 850.
Day tour of Mussoorie and Kempty Falls at Rs 850.
is a great place to shop for woollen garments. The main
places selling woollens are Sahakari Bazaar, Rajpur
Road, Astley Hall, Paltan Bazaar, and Connaught Place.
For Tourist Information Contact:
Uttaranchal Regional Tourist Office
45 Gandhi Road
Rajpur Road, Dehradun 248001
Tel: 0135-749595 Fax: 0135-747722
This 29-room hotel has two floors with a small
swimming pool, closed during winter and the monsoon.
The centrally air-conditioned rooms feature secretarial
facilities with telex, fax and computers, besides
a conference hall, multicuisine restaurant and
Tariff: Deluxe Room - Rs 1,350 (single), Rs 2,100
Great Value Dehra Dun (Clarks)
74-C, Rajpur Road
Tel: 0135-744086, Fax: 0135-746058
This 53-room, low-rise modern hotel features centrally
air-conditioned rooms and lawns for banquets and
conferences. It also has a business centre, a
multicuisine restaurant and 24-hour coffee shop,
besides offering travel assistance.
Tariff: Standard Room - Rs 995 (single), Rs 1,500
Rajpur Road, Dehradun
Tel: 0135-747171, Fax: 0135-745722
This small 20-room hotel is located conveniently
next to Meedos Plaza, a four-storey shopping complex.
It has a multicuisine restaurant and bar.
Tariff: A/c room - Rs 800 (single), Rs 1,000 (double)
Madhuban (Best Western)
97 Rajpur Road, Dehradun 248001
Tel: 0135-749990, Fax: 0135-746496
This 40-room, centrally air-conditioned, well-established
hotel with lawns at the back offers a mini golf
course and a joggers trail. It is the only
hotel with a health club offering complimentary
gym facilities to its guests. The club also has
sauna and massage facilities. It further offers
a number of conference options and a well-equipped
Tariff: A/c Room - Rs 1,850 (single), Rs 2,800
Deluxe Room - Rs 3,500 (single and double)
This 17-room hotel is very conveniently located
in the heart of town. It offers a conference hall
and an attractive Pavilion Restaurant
that offers excellent multicuisine and Tandoori
55-A, Rajpur Road
It serves Chinese, Mughalai, Continental and Thai
cuisine. A Thai meal for two costs around Rs 200-250.
16-A Lytton Road
It offers not only South Indian, but also North
Indian and Tandoori cuisine. A special South Indian
thali costs Rs 65 and so does a North Indian vegetarian
one. A Tandoori non-vegetarian platter costs Rs
6 Astely Hall
It has salad snacks, cutlets, pakoras, Continental,
Indian, Tandoori and Chinese fare. A Continental
meal for two could cost between Rs 300-400.
16-A Subhash Road
Specialising in Chinese food, it also offers pizzas
and other snacks. A Chinese meal for two costs
between Rs 100-150.
19-B Rajpur Road
It offers Indian and Chinese food. An Indian meal
for two could cost Rs 150-200.
72, Rajpur Road
It has a variety of fast foods like burgers, kathi
rolls, pizzas and Chinese, Punjabi, Tandoori,
biryanis, ice creams and shakes. A tandoori chicken
sampler with dal and nan costs Rs 110 and two
chocolate ice cream milk shakes cost Rs 80.